Faking the Science: The Role of Pseudoscientific Content in Art and Narrative
Drew Thornton
Fremantle Library, Walyalup Civic Centre
Friday October 7, 10am–12pm

How do you distinguish “science” from “fiction” in creative works? This seminar is intended for artists and writers who incorporate scientific ideas or practices into their work, as well as for academics and critics for whom the difference between real and “really suspect” is important. Cases of scientific misdirection and hornswoggling are drawn from the field of Biological Arts, from Eduardo Kac’s fluorescent rabbits and the infamous Vacanti mouse, to the presenter’s own work with video-game-playing house flies. These provide context for discussion of the relationship between fakery, creativity and fiction, as well as the conflict between truth and spectacle that confronts both artists and scientists.

The aim of this seminar is to demystify the sometimes dubious involvement of science in the arts, and vice versa. Examining both the synergies and antagonisms that arise from involvements between scientific and imaginative processes ought to provide provocation for artists and creators, and suggest new strategies for engaging with hybrid texts, parsing the murky pseudoscience and hidden fictions encountered across both scientific and literary genres.

Eduardo Paolozzi, The Dynamics of Biology [plate 38 from Bunk!] (1972).

Instructor biography
Drew Thornton completed the degree of Master of Biological Arts with SymbioticA at the University of Western Australia in 2019. Drew’s current postgraduate research at Curtin University investigates textual relationships between contemporary environments and fictional futures.